A Château in Provence

Munn Family
Munn Family
While at her 102nd birthday lunch, my grandmother mentioned that she and my aunt had learned of a memoirs written by the son of one of her cousins on the Munn side of the family. She told me the stories in the book were “scandalous”. She said this grinning ear to ear. I looked up the book and confirmed that it is available on Kindle. I read it over the last week and it reads like second had history with Forrest Gump like references sprinkled throughout. As I read my Kindle version I highlighted the author’s witness to history. The heart of the book is about his acquisition and restoration of Entrecasteaux with his father, an my grandmother’s cousin, Hugh Ian Mcgarvie-Munn in 1974.

Chateau in Provence
This book takes the reader on an amazing voyage, from living in the presidential house as the grandson of the President of Guatemala, to the tribulations of life in an English boarding school and France where I study architecture and restore our first home, a château in central France. After six years I move to Château d’Entrecasteaux in Provence, which is central to the theme of my story. The pages are filled with history, political intrigues, presidential elections, coup d’etats, murders, illicit affairs, kidnappings and ghosts, all interwoven by a love story that weaves its way through the history of Château d’Entrecasteaux and makes for compelling reading.
I most appreciated the references to my own great-great-grandfather, “…Robert Munn, a deep-sea pilot, was one of the last sailors in my family. He was constantly at sea, and rumour has it that he would only return once a year, at Christmas, deposit a pouch of gold coins on the kitchen table, father a new child, and then be off again for another year.” The book is full of additional intrigues in the 1960’s references to the CIA front The United Fruit Company that must have come in handy for a later infiltration of Panama. The author’s mother also was a fascinating character standing up to Charles De Gualle to become the first ever woman ambassador to France.

Heart of the Horse
Heart of the Horse
Photography by Juliet Van Otteren
Iain’s second wife Juliet is a noted photographer. He portraits are part of permanent collections in places like the University of Texas in Austin. Originally from California, she’s also known for her tabletop book of horse pictures.

Growing up the author spoke Spanish, French and English. There are numerous British spellings in the book and even a recurring substitution of the word “thought” with “though”. I recommend this book as a fun page-turner for anyone with an interest in 1960 Central American politics. I think it should be required reading for descendants of Captain Munn. Reading this book makes me want to plan a trip to the south of France and Guatemala, although not the same trip.

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